How To Prevent Getting Sick and Shorten Duration

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How to Prevent a Cold Getting Sick

Today let’s discuss how to prevent a cold and what you can do to shorten the duration of sicknesses like the common cold if you’re past the initial stages.

It Happens. No matter how much we all try not to get sick, from taking elderberry to using nasal sprays, we all get sick eventually. Most illnesses have three distinct stages that can be dealt with naturally. Let’s take a look.

How to Prevent a Cold

The first and best way to avoid getting sick is prevention. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are the best ways to prevent getting sick. However, once you feel the sickness coming on, here are some things you can do to prevent a cold from progressing.

First Signs of A Cold

The first stage of most illnesses can be vague, but it can also be very apparent. Some of the most common symptoms are:

  • scratchy throat
  • headache
  • pain in the sinus region
  • a runny nose often accompanied by congestion
  • tickle in the back of the throat and into the inside of the ears
  • achy body
  • general fatigue

Any or all of these symptoms may be present. Sometimes you don’t really have symptoms except for a feeling that something is off.

How to Prevent Getting Sick At Onset

If you feel like you are starting to get sick, there are several things you can do to prevent it from turning into a full-blown cold.

Elderberry, Echinacea, Astragalus, and Usnea Tinctures

The first way to prevent getting sick is to up your dosage of elderberry syrup. If you normally take a dropper each day then up it to 3-4 times a day. Having a little extra won’t hurt you. You can also do this with echinacea, astragalus, or usnea tinctures. All of these are immune boosters that help prevent colds and sickness.

If you cannot make your own you can purchase these tinctures/extracts here:

Note about echinacea: some people experience a decreased level of effectiveness after a while. Almost like it works so well that your body becomes immune to the cure. If this happens, stop taking it for a week then start up again. Many people have found this method, 14 days on-7 days off, to work very well.

Vitamin C

You could also try taking extra vitamin C to prevent a cold. Excess vitamin C is excreted in the urine. Do not exceed 2,000 milligrams a day or you may experience nausea and diarrhea. You can find high amounts of vitamin C naturally in fruits and vegetables, and also supplements like Emergen-C. Higher doses of vitamin C may help to shorten the life of the cold or flu.

Colloidal Silver Nasal Spray

Another idea is to use a colloidal silver nasal spray. (Learn more about Colloidal Silver here.) If your illness starts like mine, with a nasal allergy, then flushing the nasal passages can help get rid of pollen in the nose.

Oil of Oregano

Tip from Matt and Betsy: we find that taking Oil of Oregano at the first sign of a cold/flu helps to prevent getting sick at all. Betsy takes a few drops several times/day to stave off illness whereas Matt’s body requires half a dropper full several times/day. So play around with the dosage to see how to prevent a cold for you. We swear by this! Bonus tip: hold the oil of oregano under your tongue for 30 seconds to 2 minutes (this may burn so swallow when it gets uncomfortable) then chase with orange juice.

Sweat it out!

The last suggestion comes from the idea of heat, then cold, then heat. When you first start getting something, take hot things. Cayenne, ginger, and cinnamon are great choices. The theory is that you may be able to drive out an illness by heating it up. Once you feel fever, stop with the heat, and switch to cool things.

If A Cold Has Already Set In

This is the stage when you realize you’re past being able to prevent a cold and are already sick. You may feel a lot more of the above symptoms. You’ll most likely have a fever accompanying the aches and sniffles.

Cooling Items for Fever

Once you have a full-blown cold or virus, switch to cool things. Mints, eucalyptus, rose, chamomile and camphor are good things. Remember the nasal inhaler that you used when you were younger? It’s easy to make your own with a few common items. And the petroleum jelly-based ointment that Mom put on your chest as a kid? You can make your own using natural ingredients. Keep cool with cold drinks and use a fan if you need one.

Continue with Oil of Oregano

Just as oil of oregano works to prevent a cold, it also works great for us in shortening the duration of cold and flu.

Oregano oil is an herbal supplement that’s known for its antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. It contains several potentially healing compounds, such as carvacrol, thymol, and terpinine.[1]

Simply continue to take your proper dosage several times each day. The active benefits of the oil will help you recover more quickly.

Stage three: “Oh man, I’m still sick!”

Perhaps the main part of the illness has run its course (no sneezing or fever) but you have a lingering cough and are perhaps a bit tired.

More Oil of Oregano

Not to sounds like a broken record but oil of oregano is proven to work against cold and flu. So use it whenever you have cold or flu-like symptoms until they disappear.

Sweat it Out, Again.

If this happens, and it can, you can fight it with heat again. The idea here is that you want to drive out the rest of the illness with heat, much like in the first stage. Try cayenne, ginger, and cinnamon again. Black pepper and cardamom are some other tasty herbs that can help.

Pineapple Juice

For the lingering cough, try some pineapple juice. Yes, that story going around on the internet has some validity. Pineapple contains bromelain, which is a strong anti-inflammatory agent.[2] It can help to reduce swelling and help to heal sore throats.

Other Thoughts

Contrary to popular belief, honey is not the best thing for a cough. Honey is a natural humectant, pulling moisture out of the air. If you have a wet cough, like one that has a lot of mucus, honey can make the problem worse by adding extra fluid to the mucus. Dairy products also help to produce extra mucus, so stay away from that cup of warm milk. Hot Tea can help soothe your throat, but be aware that black and green teas contain tannins that can dry out your throat. Try herbal teas like marshmallow root or slippery elm bark instead.

Closing Thoughts

Getting sick doesn’t mean you need to suffer. Try these natural ideas to prevent a cold, help ease the discomfort of an illness, and to help shorten the duration!

Have you tried natural remedies for colds or flu? Tell us what worked the best!



  1. Oregano Oil for Cold and Flu: Does It Work? Accessed Sept 2019.
  2. Bromelain. Accessed Sept 2019.

About Debra Maslowski

Debra is a master gardener, a certified herbalist, a natural living instructor, and more. She taught Matt and Betsy how to make soap so they decided to bring her on as a staff writer! Debra recently started an organic herb farm in the mountains of Western North Carolina. You can even purchase her handmade products on Amazon!

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  1. Carol L says

    Oil of oregano: is it just oregano that has been left in oil? I’m sure it isn’t the essential oil, oregano?
    Please define a bit more. I don’t use things from places like Walmart. I prefer to make my own if possible. So if it is just oil that has been ‘tinctured’ in oil than I can make it myself.
    Thanks for this nice post. I have several things I made this year for prevention of flu and cold, but can always use more!

  2. Peggy says

    Oregano Oil is always my first go to when I feel something coming on. I recommend it to everyone as well. I always love the reactions from my “non-natural” friends when I suggest to them to try it

  3. suzanne says

    I to love oil of oregano. It is not meant to be taken though for more than a few days I believe. Just don’t make it an every day thing. Also, be mindful when swallowing. I had it mixed with some water and took a quick sip, but didn’t swallow properly (or something!). It went down the wrong way and it was hell on earth till I could calm down from the discomfort. I swear by it though for when you first feel that scratchy throat coming on. And my recently discovered preventative is Quantum Health Thera Zinc Spray. 8 quick sprays to the throat. Handy to have in the car for those times one has encountered in the store, etc. with a nasty sneeze or cough.